The Guardian: What Europe could learn from the way Africa treats refugees

Africa hosts more refugees than any other region of the world and many countries are adopting pioneering solutions
27 June, 2018

4500 Congolese refugees arriving in Uganda, where refugees have the right to work and free movement. Photograph: Jack Taylor/Getty Images

By Alexander Betts

Across Europe, asylum policies are failing both refugees and citizens. Attempts to negotiate a fair distribution of refugees within Europe are deadlocked, and this week’s emergency EU summit on migration seems unlikely to yield a breakthrough.

Just about the only thing that European governments have been able to agree upon is the creation of migration partnerships with African countries. These agreements focus on strengthening borders, reducing departures, and increasing the number of returns of migrants trying to cross to Europe. Niger has become Europe’s largest recipient of development aid; not because of a surge in altruism but because it is the most significant migrant route to Libya and the Mediterranean.

But when it comes to refugees, Europe should think differently about African states. Instead of just being objects of inducement and coercion, many should offer inspiration. Africa now hosts more refugees than any region of the world. And yet some are adopting pioneering solutions from which the rest of the world might learn. Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, was correct when he said this week: “Those shouting about a refugee emergency in Europe or America should visit African communities giving refuge to millions with small resources.”

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